I just read your editorial (“Assuming The Position,” October) about “position and hold,” which is now “line up and wait,” which I last heard in fourth grade. It reminded me of when I first began flying in May 1981.

In Riverside County, Calif., I learned of a vortac named March; not the month, the air force base. Its still there. A great big you-cant-miss-it vortac everyone knows


about, next to March Air Force Base.

I hadnt been flying long when the FAA renamed the vortac, in its eminent wisdom, to Homeland. I pondered: Why in the world would the FAA-which obviously had way too much time on its hands-rename the Vortac from a well-known feature, March Air Force Base, to an obscure name, Homeland? No one knew.

Then one day a few years later, my wife and I were driving by the air force base, when I noticed a sign, “Homeland, population xxxx, elevation yyyy.” Which is when I discovered Homeland is a tiny burg in Riverside County no one to this day ever heard of before. Welcome to the wonderful world of the FAA.

Norman F. Boxley
Pasadena, Calif.

TWO-Way Street

Regarding your editorial, “Assuming The Position,” if you were serious, the attitude espoused further supports American hegemony-that the U.S. is superior and the rest of the world should be like us. Unfortunately, this attitude has gotten us into trouble with the global community.

For example, you mention changing to the ICAO weather abbreviations is for the benefit of non-U.S. pilots training here. But also benefits American pilots flying internationally. It is a two-way street to respect and adapt to international standards unless safety is compromised.

You did not mention the change we made in the early 1990s to rename the airspace to be consistent with ICAO. Prior to the change, it was very confusing, since a particular cubic meter of airspace could be in more than one airspace designator. For example, the airspace over an airport could be part of an airport traffic area, a control zone and a TRSA. The change to A, B, C, etc., simplified everything.

I remember back then the Luddites were saying why fix something that was not broken? “Weve done it this way since the birth of aviation-let others change.” Same attitude when we changed from LF ranges to VOR navigation.

Regarding the “position and hold” clearance, the confusion was more related to “hold position” and not “position and roll.”

But, as you mention, we are lucky English is the international aviation language. Think of how the aviation world would look to us if the international language would have been Spanish or Mandarin-two widely spoken languages!

Bottom line: We need to be better global citizens and adapt/adopt to global standards or be willing to be isolated.

Luca F. Bencini-Tibo
Weston, Fla.

Luca, youre right about American hegemony, of course. But exchanging “position and hold” for “line up and wait” is just wrong.

Instructing Instructors

Reading your editorial (“Training Crisis,” November) about teaching decision making and poor pilot training, I am reminded of a frustration I had when I owned a flight


school. Because we were a Part 61 operation and our CFIs were independent contractors (and Im not a CFI myself), I could not force an instructional curriculum.

We owned a beautiful Level 3 simulator and I wanted our CFIs to use it to full advantage with our private pilot students: Before we let any student take their final checkride, I wanted to put the student in the sim and tell him or her we just wanted to see how well they tracked a VOR inbound. Then, the CFI was to gradually reduce visibility to zero without saying anything to the student, and at the same time, introduce a bit of turbulence. The idea was to see if the student would be able to identify a real problem, declare an emergency, turn around and keep the dirty side down. All too many accidents happen when a lower-time private pilot wanders into low visibility and cant escape, or at least ask for help.

But sadly, our CFIs just found this to be a waste of their time since they couldnt log the flight hours. What a shame. Its a simple hours lesson that could save a life in the future.

Unfortunately, our school, like most, didnt have the wherewithal to actually employ the instructors, so we couldnt force them to comply. But it demonstrates a significant part of the problem: Most younger CFIs are building time and dont see themselves as professional educators. Hopefully, in the future, well find a better way to instruct the instructors.

Dan Katz,
Northridge, Calif.

Static System Checks

My congratulations and appreciation for Larry Anglisanos superb article, “Pitot/Static Checks,” in the October 2010 issue. I would like to make some additional comments on this subject:

First, its unfortunate the tests required by FARs 91.411 and 91.413 have become commonly known as “pitot/static checks.” Maybe someone can come up with a better term that is more accurately descriptive. That term is significantly misleading because, as the article points out, while highly desirable and frequently performed, the FARs do not require a pitot-system test. Additionally, the term does not contain the word “transponder,” yet every aircraft flying VFR in the extensive airspace specified in Part 91.215 is required to be operating a transponder tested in accordance with FAR 91.413.

Second, most of the tests required by 91.411 and 91.413 must be performed by specifically qualified organizations or technicians using special test equipment. But a static pressure system test required by 91.411 and described in FAR 43s Appendix E may be performed by a certificated airframe mechanic (as permitted by FAR 91.411. Acceptance criteria for the static pressure system test is found in FAR 23.1325 (for non-transport-category airplanes).

Third, and to clarify, where the article states: “-where opening and closing of the (static pressure system) occurs-also requires recertification.” Such recertification could consist of just the static pressure system test described in FAR 43 Appendix E and be legally performed by a certificated airframe mechanic.

Finally, the FARs do not require a pitot tube/system heater to be checked, but Appendix E to FAR 43 does require a static port heater, if installed, be checked for operation. Every technician I have observed performing the FAR 91.411 tests has also checked the pitot heater, if installed, for operation.

Again, my congratulations on a superb article.

Owen C. Baker
Via e-mail


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